The farther they flew, the more densely built-up the city became and the greater the damage appeared. After they flew over the central park, the “Tiergarten,” Danny pointed out the infamous Reichstag, where the Soviet flag still flew, and indicated some ruins that he said were the Reichskanzlei where Hitler had killed himself. Just beyond lay the government district which the Soviets controlled. Danny identified the wide, straight avenue as “Unter den Linden,” and Priestman had a glimpse of a series of once elegant and palatial buildings surrounded by large swaths of rubble. The elaborate facades were shattered, and their glass windows were gone, leaving only gloomy grey surfaces pockmarked by artillery and gunfire. They crossed two narrow bands of water forming an island and beyond the city spread out like a vast field of ruins. Almost nothing seemed intact. As far as the eye could see were piles of broken masonry standing between the shattered shells of broken buildings with vacant windows.
The RAF pilots were flying at only a couple of thousand feet, and Priestman could look straight down into entire blocks of buildings that consisted of roofless walls enclosing rubble. At this altitude, the effect was more dramatic than flying over Hamburg in the BEA airliner, and he felt the first niggle of guilt. Of course, the Germans had sowed the wind, but had anyone seriously imagined the whirlwind would look like this?
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